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Mar 16, 2021

Coming of Age Drama Contemporary

We take shelter in the clay-brick building, in the center of the village. I follow along behind my mother, clutching the sleeve of her robes with one hand and carrying my baby sister in the crook of my other arm. I hear the sounds of horse hooves and shouting growing nearer as we descend down the carefully-cut stairs into the underground basement. The walls and floor are stained with blood – dried, but still a vibrant red against the dull brown surface.

We take shelter in the clay-brick building, in the old part of the city. I follow along behind my mother, clutching the edge of her burka with one hand and carrying my baby sister in the crook of my other arm. I hear the sounds of vehicles and shouting growing nearer as we descend down the time-worn stairs into the underground basement. The walls and floor are pockmarked with bullet holes – scattered, some accompanied by stains of vibrant red blood.

The Persians have been moving into the city for months now, ransacking homes and ripping families apart. Just last year, my elder brother was attending the nearby seminary. My father was a travelling merchant, trading goods between villages. My mother and I stayed in the village, preparing meals over the fire and going to the temple each morning to pray.

The Taliban has been moving into the city for months now, ransacking homes and ripping families apart. Just last year, my elder brother and I were attending the nearby seminary. My father was a travelling salesman, selling goods in nearby cities and sometimes in other countries, too. My mother stayed home to prepare meals for the most part, but still found the time to go to the temple each morning to pray.

Neither my father nor my brother have come home since then. All the men went away to hold off the Persians’ advances, yet here they are now. Those who had horses rode into battle, but most marched out of the city on foot. They must be dead by now. Dead or turned to slaves, to be taken across the desert then shipped out beyond the oceans. My mother cries for them every day; every waking moment of hers is spent weeping. I only let myself cry at night. I have to be strong for her, and to care for my baby sister.

Neither my father nor my brother have come home since then. All the men went away to hold off the Taliban’s advances, yet here they are now. Those who had trucks and rifles rode into battle with their weapons ready, many more marching out of the city on foot with whatever they could find for defense. They must be dead by now. Dead or being held hostage, so that ransom to be demanded for their return. My mother cries for them every day; every waking moment of hers is spent weeping. I only let myself cry at night. I have to be strong for her, and to care for my baby sister.

The Persians took everything from us. They destroyed our city, taking away our rights and our beliefs. We were once a people of courage and dignity; now we beg at the feet of our invaders. So much as uttering a single word against them is enough the be beheaded. They say they are here to enlighten us, yet they have thrown us back beyond the darkest ages. Suppose we survive their siege on our city; our lives will never be the same. I pity my sister most of all. She’ll never know another way of living.

The Taliban took everything from us. They destroyed our city, taking away our rights and our beliefs. We were once a hub of honor and intellect; now we beg at the feet of our invaders. So much as uttering a single word against them or showing even a bare ankle is enough to be beheaded. They say they are here to enlighten us, yet they have thrown us beck beyond the darkest ages. Suppose we survive their siege on our city; our lives will never be the same. I pity my sister most of all. She’ll never know another way of living.

The shouting grows louder from above us, coupled with the metallic clatter of clashing swords. They must know we’re in here. My sister begins to stir in her wraps, opening her eyes and emitting a soft whimper. I tuck her into my chest, rocking her gently back to sleep. My mother sits in the corner, her eyes wide with shock. We draw in a collective breath, holding it tensely as sandal-clad footsteps begin making their way down the staircase.

The shouting grows louder from above us, coupled with squealing brakes and bouts of sporadic gunfire. They must know we’re in here. My sister begins to stir in her tattered blanket, opening her eyes and emitting a soft whimper. I tuck her into my chest, rocking her gently back to sleep. My mother sits in the corner, the shadowy form of her burka trembling against the walls. I can only imagine the expression on her face, somewhere between horror and devastation. We draw in a collective breath, holding it tensely as the heavy footfalls of combat boots make their way down the staircase.

There’s nowhere for us to hide down here – the basement is empty, save for a few jugs of wine. An orange glow washes over us as a group of three Persians file into the room, carrying torches along with their swords. They see my mother first, sitting in the corner opposite the door. She gives them no resistance as they approach. I want to scream, to cry out, but I know there is no hope of stopping them.

There’s nowhere for us to hide down here – the basement is empty, abandoned for hundreds of years. A bright white beam sweeps across us as a group of three Taliban militants file into the room, carrying flashlights along with their rifles. They see my mother first, sitting in the corner opposite the door. She gives them no resistance as they approach. I want to scream, to cry out, but I know there is no hope of stopping them.

The last Persian steps forward from in front of the staircase, blocking my mother into the room but leaving the doorway wide open. I slip quietly along the wall, my sandals pressing gently on the packed-soil floor. This is my only chance. With a sudden burst of speed, I take off up the staircase and out into the bright light of the street. I hear the shouts from behind me as they realize I’ve escaped, ducking the thrown rocks which smash against the walls.

The last militant steps forward from in front of the staircase, blocking my mother into the room but leaving the doorway wide open. I slip quietly along the wall, my worn sneakers pressing gently on the packed-soil floor. This is my only chance. With a sudden burst of speed, I take off up the staircase and out into the bright light of the street. I hear the shouts from behind me as they realize I’ve escaped, ducking the bullets which smash against the walls.

I run through the street as fast as I can, jumping over the rubble and the bodies left to rot. The few wells of the village have been smashed, precious water leaking into the parched soil. Thick black smoke rises from some of the buildings, after being torched by the Persian invaders.

I run through the street as fast as I can, jumping over the rubble and the bodies left to rot. Bombed out vehicles line the sidewalk, tangled up in downed power lines. Some of them are still in flames, a thick black smoke rising into the clear blue sky.

Tears stream down my face as I run. I don’t know where I’m going, or when I’ll be able to stop. All I know is that I must protect my sister.

Tears stream down my face as I run. I don’t know where I’m going, or when I’ll be able to stop. All I know is that I must protect my sister.

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